Media Releases

Alan Collins

“The acceleration of changes to the State Pension is not a surprise, as life expectancies continue to increase. Within retirement, life expectancy has almost doubled over the last century. While it may not be a particularly cheery message for the festive season, there is unfortunately no magic wand that can be waived when it comes to pensions. Simply put, the only way to avoid having to work longer to fund your retirement is to save more and save earlier.”

 “It is likely these changes will increase the blurring of the lines between working and retirement with more and more people continuing to work even when they are receiving pension income.”

Will Davison

Spence & Partners Head of Charity & Not for Profit advisory services David Davison was set the challenging task of presenting a session entitled “Pensions Made Simple” at the 22nd annual Charity Accountants Conference held in Birmingham on the 19-20 September 2013. The talk covered defined benefit and defined contribution schemes, private and public sector schemes and provided the audience with an overview of the issues charities face and the potential solutions available to them. The talk was well received by the audience and slides are available here : The Charity Accountants’ Conference – Pensions Made Simple

Will Davison

Spence & Partners, the UK pensions actuaries and administration specialists, today advised that more schemes should be auditing their data controls to avoid data protection fines and suggested a number of steps that schemes should consider to ensure better information security:

  • A strict data policy needs to be implemented and maintained;
  • The easiest things can be overlooked and it is important to take a common sense approach. Data should not just be discarded in bins. Make sure there are confidential waste bins and that a specialist firm is employed to dispose of the waste;
  • Carry out spot checks on staff to ensure compliance with policies in place;
  • Consider having independent audits in accordance with recognised accreditations e.g. ISO 27001 or AAF;
  • Data security is not a tick box exercise – more probing questions should be asked; and
  • Train staff and make sure that they understand how important data security is and the procedures that need to be followed. Read more »
Will Davison

Spence & Partners, the UK pensions actuaries and administration specialists, have said that yesterday’s forward guidance issued by the Bank of England could have different impacts for UK defined benefit pension schemes across their liabilities and assets.

Marian Elliott, Head of Trustee Advisory Services, commented: “With the Bank’s intention to keep the base rate at 0.5% until an unemployment target has been reached, they will maintain the upward pressure on liability values of many UK DB schemes. Maintaining QE for the short to medium term may well stem the recent rise in gilt yields, which had been good news for schemes as this lowered the current value placed on pension liabilities. Until the unemployment conditions are met and interest rates begin to rise again, we would not expect pension liabilities to reduce significantly on the back of rising gilt yields. Read more »

Will Davison

Spence & Partners, the UK pensions actuaries and administration specialists, today commented that the recent news surrounding the availability of real-time valuations is a welcome step towards the delivery of a more pro-active service to pension scheme trustees and sponsoring employers, but that progress will be hindered if the link with scheme data and an audited benefit specification isn’t strengthened.

Marian Elliott, Head of Trustee Advisory Services at Spence, commented: “The facility to undertake daily valuations and become more responsive around the scheme’s funding position will certainly benefit trustees and sponsors in the management of legacy defined benefit schemes. It is absolutely right that trustees should expect to receive real time liability information. This is something we have been doing with our clients for a few months now and they have responded very positively to the streamlining of the process. We are therefore pleased to see the development of other such services being announced in the industry. Read more »

Will Davison

UK pensions actuaries and administration specialists Spence & Partners today said that a greater part of the communication around Auto Enrolment should be to emphasise the need to contribute more than the minimum requirement. This will go some way to help avoid understating the true contributions required for members to achieve their desired retirement fund.

Commenting, Marian Elliott, Director at Spence said: “Auto Enrolment is starting to look like the ‘five-a-day’ fruit and vegetable campaign. The government set the nutrition figure at five-a-day as it was felt that it was too much to ask for people to engage with the real required amount, which is around nine-a-day. Whilst this campaign has inevitably helped the overall situation on healthy eating, it is now so embedded as a figure that people do not seek to find out the amount they should truly be eating for a healthy lifestyle. So too with contributions. If the industry place too much emphasis on the minimum figures as good retirement provision, then members are less likely to consider contributing further to actually reach their pension goal. Read more »

Will Davison

UK pensions actuaries and administration specialists Spence & Partners today said that many data problems suffered by schemes are down to advisers withholding information and issues from trustees in fear of it jeopardising their appointment.

Mark Johnson, Head of Data Audit & Analysis at Spence, commented: “As part of the procurement process many schemes will be offered free data cleanses and audits under the transition of scheme information between advisers. However, in lots of cases this gets parked to one side while the bigger transition takes place and never ultimately gets completed. The result of this is that a number of legacy data issues are transferred across to the new adviser and remain unresolved. The new adviser is often then reluctant to raise any data issues further down the line, as it would highlight the work they had not undertaken as agreed. This is happening a great deal in the industry and affected trustees are unaware.”

Johnson continued: “As we all know, the Regulator has included good record keeping and data as part of its guidance for trustees. But if the trustees are being kept in the dark they may think they are in a stronger position than they actually are and could be unwittingly failing in their governance duties.  To avoid this, trustees should be challenging their advisors far more and not be put off by paying for data cleanses. Although data cleansing exercises can have a sizeable cost implication for schemes, trustees will actually reap the rewards as they will gain efficiencies in other areas. Over the long term having more accurate data will not only save problems further down the line, but also a substantial amount of money.”

Will Davison

Belfast-based actuarial and administration firm, Spence & Partners Limited, has appointed Cyril Gaffney in the role of Administration Consultant. This newly created role comes on the back of UK-wide expansion for the firm which also has offices in London and Glasgow. It marks a reunion between Spence founders, Brian Spence and Neil Copeland, and Gaffney who previously worked together as colleagues in the 1990s.

Gaffney, a graduate of Queen’s University and University of Ulster, is an experienced pensions administration professional who has worked with a number of consulting firms, including Mercer and PricewaterhouseCoopers, in a career spanning 18 years before taking on his current role at Spence.

His main focus will be on developing Spence’s innovative administration service which utilises innovative technologies to deliver cost efficient actuarial and administration to pension schemes in the UK and Ireland.

Gaffney is an Associate member of the Pensions Management Institute and the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators.

Spence & Partners CEO, Brian Spence said: “I originally recruited Cyril in 1994 in the pre-Spence & Partners days when I was at Mercer. I was sorry at the time when he left Mercer to move to a new role in another firm but now delighted to be reunited with him at Spence.

“He’s a consummate professional who understands the UK pension industry and is definitely someone who can make a huge contribution to our team.

“His appointment comes in the wake of significant growth across the business which has expanded across the UK. We welcome Cyril to the team and I look forward to working with him as we continue to build the firm.”

Rebecca Lavender

 UK pensions actuaries and administration specialists, Spence and Partners, has opened an office in London and announced the appointment of new director Marian Elliott as the head of its UK Trustee Advisory Service.

Elliott is a scheme actuary who has worked in the UK pensions market for 10 years since she moved to England from her native South Africa. She has experience in advising both corporate and trustee clients in the private and public sectors.

Based at the firm’s London premises in Berkeley Street, Elliott takes on a national role to further develop Spence’s trustee advisory practice. She also joins the firm’s board, where she will assist with strategic direction and business development.  

She said: “Spence has a fantastic team and I am thrilled to be joining them at this exciting stage of their development.  Their recent successes in the trustee advisory market, together with their investment in IT, data management systems and software innovation, highlight their absolute commitment to providing high quality advice to trustees.”

Spence and Partners CEO, Brian Spence said: “Marian is an experienced and extremely competent operator within the pensions industry and we are very excited about her joining our team. Getting her on board and launching our new London office marks another great step forward for Spence. Marian’s drive and her exceptional track record will undoubtedly bolster our offering as a firm.” 

These new developments follow Spence’s recent appointment as one of eight firms on the PPF’s Specialist Administration Services Panel which was confirmed earlier this month.

(ENDS)

  

Rebecca Lavender

Spence & Partners Limited, has been appointed by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) to its new administration services panel.

Through the appointment, Spence will provide specialist pension administration services to the trustees of schemes which are in the assessment process for both the PPF and the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS). Along with the other seven panel members, the firm’s remit is to ‘significantly contribute to the effort to increase the number of schemes that transfer to the PPF within a given period, whilst delivering an excellent customer experience’. Read more »

Brian Spence

Leading pensions actuaries and administrators Spence & Partners have completed ISO/EIC 27001, an internationally recognised standard for Information Security Management.

ISO/IEC 27001 is fast becoming the international touchstone for effective, secure information management practices that protect organisations and ensure their compliance with data protection, privacy and computer misuse regulations. The application and use of this standard primarily ensures business continuity, minimising business damage by preventing and reducing the impact of security incidents while maximising business investments and opportunities.

The security practices adopted within Spence & Partners to comply with the accreditation are essential to protect the interests of the firms’ people and its clients in ensuring the secure and safe deployment of IT systems and services.

Brian Spence, Managing Director at Spence & Partners said: “We are proud to be one of the first pension administration companies to meet ISO 27001 compliance criteria standards.

“IT security is becoming increasingly paramount – given the volume and importance of the data which firms such as ours hold on file and we felt it was essential to obtain this accreditation. We believe the assurance we can offer clients through this high standard of data security will give us a clear advantage against many of our counterparts within the UK pensions industry.”

“This underlines our commitment to setting the standards across our sector and to provide our clients with enhanced levels of service and security.  This commitment spans all levels of Spence & Partners and Dalriada, whether we act as trustees, advisers or are only considering our internal information and processes.”

To help undertake the compliance project in a very tight timescale, Spence & Partners brought in external consultants Cimaomega.

Gillian Esquivel, Director at Cimaomega said: “This project has been completed at an accelerated pace and is a credit to everyone working directly and indirectly on it. This underlines Spence & Partners’ commitment to invest for the benefit of their clients.”
(ENDS)

For further information please contact Bill Shaw on 07974 720669 or bill@billshaw.uk.com